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Legacy of a life-long connection to the School

The Speech Day Citizenship Award for Boys, presented each year in John Jeffreys’ name is one of the legacies recognising his life-long connection to Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School.

John and his wife, Kerry, joined Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School in 1975 in the early years when the School was a small and close-knit community, defined by personal relationships between students, their families and staff.

For the first five years John and Kerry worked as boarding house parents and provided the boarders, a ‘home away from home’.

“For one weekend in each three week cycle, we were on duty from after school on Friday to before school on Monday, including all of Saturday and Sunday – it was quite a marathon,” John said.

“One of the boarding highlights for me were the Sunday afternoon outings in the Dodge bus to mystery locations including Wellington Dam and the occasional diversion to the Jeffreys’ Hobby Farm, driving around the paddocks with boarders feeding out hay from the trailer,” he said.

In 1981, following two years’ absence as Headmaster at Wesley High School in PNG, John moved  into the role of Deputy Headmaster where he worked until 1999 and continued as a part-time secondary teacher until 2003, when he retired.

During his tenure, John introduced or assisted with a variety of innovations at the School. His focus was on creating meaningful traditions, which have been instrumental in forming the School’s culture, creating memories and strengthening connections.

Unsurprisingly, John’s fondest memories of his time at the School are the relationships formed with students and staff.

“These are relationships that, once formed, have endured long after my school years,” he said.

Other memorable moments include the fun boarding events at the end of each term as well as the end of year beach barbeques and the light-hearted, satirical performances by the graduating Year 12 students in their final assembly.

“I was recently reminded of a staff parade when I appeared on stage wearing a grass skirt with a clay pot over my head, relics of my PNG years. There was some reference to ‘grass and pot’ which the students seemed to find amusing,” John said.

In 2005, John joined the handful of community members recognised by the Old Grammarians’ Association for their dedication to the School and former students.

One of the benefits of receiving this honour, according to John, is the reunions.

“As a Special Life Member, I enjoy the cycle of reunions, which provide the opportunity to renew old relationships and reflect on life experiences after each ten-year span,” he elaborated.

John has also been one of the beneficiaries of the OGA’s Humanitarian or Philanthropic Program (HOPE), which was awarded in 2011 for his work as a Uniting Church volunteer with the Wesley High School in Papua New Guinea.

During his retirement, John has been actively involved in the community in voluntary roles for boards and committees and is still responsible for organising the quarterly meetings for the Crusty Old Grammar Staff (COGS), which is a social group for former teachers of Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School.

The citizenship award named after John many years ago is a fitting tribute for a man who is dedicated to community service and creating last connections.

“Arriving in the fourth year of the School and leaving in its 32nd, Kerry and I are immensely proud and thankful for the privilege of being part of the Bunbury Grammar family for so long,” he concluded.

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